Fourteen months ago, the city of South Bend, Ind., unveiled its newly renovated Main Library that local officials were hopeful would expand economic activity and provide the community with more flexible meeting spaces.
A team that included Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) had updated 85,000 sf of the existing 116,500-sf library, and added a new 40,000-sf Community Learning Center. This $40 million project, which occupies a 3.4-acre block, was a partnership between St. Joseph County, the city, and the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County.
The library, which before its renovation had been drawing more than 1,000 daily visitors, has been a magnetic force for downtown South Bend since at least the 1950s. That attraction was predicted to strengthen now that the library is connected to the standalone Community Learning Center (built on what had been a vacant lot) via a new outdoor courtyard. The Community Learning Center includes offices, classrooms, study spaces, a coffee shop, computer lab, and tech center with a maker space with recording studios, camera equipment, and 3D printing services.
“In the short time that the library has been back open to the public, it’s been amazing to witness firsthand how much the community has embraced this building and begun to make it their own,” said Trish Coleman, former Chief Public Service Officer at the St. Joseph County Public Library.
A city turning the corner
The library’s renovation included new windows combined with interior glass partitions. RAMSA collaborated with Boss design to create a children’s play area for learning and exploration. A teenage-focused exhibition space hosts rotating interactive displays.
The Building Team on this project included Arkos Design (AOR), Ziolkowski Construction (GC), Bulley & Andrews (CM), Circle Design Group (MEP and Civil engineering), Fink Roberts Petri (SE), Cerami & Associates (Security and Acoustics), Fisher Moranitz Stone (Lighting), Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (Envelope), and Custom Sound Designs (A/V).
The library’s renovation and expansion coincide with a decade-long revitalization of South Bend, home to Notre Dame University, which has recently seen growth in its population to an estimated 104,000. A planned removal of four cloverleafs and access ramps is prelude to an envisioned development of a 130-acre mixed-use district along the St. Joseph River that has already emerged as a culinary and event area.
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